Task Force on Financially Sustainable Library Service Models
Checking in: The Future of SCPL
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Bryn's Blog Post
So I signed up for this library task force. Now, on alternate Thursdays, you can find me and the other members of the group hunched around a big table in the meeting room of the central branch.
Twenty years ago I reported regularly to the same building. Back then, I wasn't slicing and dicing budget numbers, hunting for efficiencies. I was earning my daily bread as a book jockey, a library page, in other words, a shelver. Next I did a stint at the Cabrillo Library. Then the UCSC Library, where I now push pixels around as a Web Developer.
What I discovered over those twenty years is that libraries are built on contradictions.
Libraries are warm and welcoming places filled with cold hard facts. They harbor centuries-old codexes and cutting-edge computers. They are doorways to the wide world and community gathering places.
These contradictions, it always seemed to me, are the real secret of a library's success. Especially that last one.
We visit local libraries because they provide access to a world of information. But there's more to it than that. We go to attend an event, do homework with a friend, meet a tutor, or find out about local history. In short, we go because our branch libraries are part of our community.
I've known that for a long time. And now I see it in my kids. We go to our local branch a lot, and I get to watch as they build community together with knowledge.
What I didn't know before joining this task force is just how precious and fragile a thing this is.
It's Thursday morning. Time for another meeting of the Service Models Task Force. We're talking about budgets and efficiencies. But I'm thinking about contradictions. I'm thinking about my local library and hoping it can continue to be as global as the internet, and as local as next door.
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